Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Badi-nage was not the solution

My father once owned a Citroën DS 19. The one with the directional headlights and green hydraulic fluid. The one that sat on its haunches after it had been switched off. The one that had an armrest in the rear seat that could be lifted to make space for a third passenger. The one that flew like the wind when we travelled "up-country" to see the really old people who plowed us with ridiculously stringy, yet tasty, mangos.  I absolutely loved that car.

I especially liked riding in it on those frequent occasions when he had to drive me to the doctor. We would leave home at the crack of dawn so that we would be among the first to be seen by the doctor. Then afterwards, whether or not there were syringes and injections involved, he'd buy me a snack, get me a storybook, leave me in his office as he taught his mid-morning lectures. That early in the morning, we'd come past Marigiti as the road was being washed. Yes, they washed the roads in those olden days.

This is my point: for a brief moment, after the perfidious City Council had been fired and the City Commission appointed, Nairobi City was the Green City in the Sun, where municipal services functioned, the roads were swept and washed, the kamero collected the garbage on Tuesday and Saturday, Marigiti was the place to find your freshest veggies, and Gikomba and Kariokor the place to find your kienyeji chicken and tilapia. State-sponsored schools were clean and cost-sharing hadn't yet become a burden for parents. You'd shop at Uchumi and use the brown bags to cover your textbooks which were bought from Savanis. Nairobi, for a glorious moment in time, was good even for the working classes.

Nairobi has fallen a long way from its heights in the 1980s. From the day the Sunbeam Supermarket on Tom Mboya Street collapsed, a succession of mayors and governors have bequeathed us a city that has become harder and harder to live in, even for the wealthy elite in their leafy suburbs. The streets are no longer washed, let alone swept. The kamero long ago stopped running; mountains of garbage mark the boundaries of different "zones". Yes, even the leafy suburbs can be identified by the mountains of garbage right outside their gates. Marigiti, Kariokor and Gikomba are places you venture into with trepidation. After all, who can remember that amazing year when Uhuru Kenyatta was the Minister of Local Government and six hundred tonnes of garbage were trucked out of Marigiti? Or the tens of thousands of rats that fled soon thereafter?

In the early days of the pandemic, President Uhuru Kenyatta engineered the transfer of certain municipal services from the wildly incompetent city administration of Mike Mbuvi Sonko to the martial-oriented Maj. Gen. Mohamed Abdalla Badi and his Nairobi Metropolitan Services. The General came into office with a lot of goodwill in his back. Nairobians - indeed, Kenyans - were tired with the erratic behaviour of their governor and many were confident that a man who has overseen combat missions for the '82 Air Force was just the one to sort out the problems of the benighted no-longer-green City in the Sun. 

It is apparent that the confidence was misplaced. We know and appreciate that the challenges bedevilling the planning department require root-and-branch reforms and our patience will only start to run thin if more buildings "collapse" during construction. But the fact that the General and his precious NMS continue to allow the festering problem of garbage collection to exist is unfathomable and unforgivable. Everywhere you turn, mountains of garbage moulder malodorously on roadsides - and roads. Garbage clogs surface drains and sewers. Marigiti is langusihing beneath a new six-hundred-tonne mountain of its own while Kariokor has been swarmed by motorcycle taxis and ramshackle vibanda. All the good general can show for his time in office are coloured cabro bricks in the CBD and strategically-installed water tanks in a few markets.

An example of his failures is to be seen along Landhies Road. The General has surrounded Muthurwa Marpket, built during Uhuru Kenyatta's tenure in Local Government, with a high wall. But the pavement along Landhies Road has been turned into an obstacle course and now, with the rains, is unpassable unless one is prepared to get to their destination resembling an active pig. Little care has been taken to take care of the pedestrians of Landhies Road and none seems to be forthcoming. Indeed, the area East of Moi Avenue has been allowed to get worse and worse since he took office. The secrecy of his plans and his operations does not inspire confidence. I have no confidence that he will do anything more than build beautiful infrastructure in places that need it the least and put up barriers to ensure the Landhies Road pedestrians never cross to the shiny side of town. General Badi is neither the hero we wanted nor needed. He is, at the end of the day, the martial incarnation of Mike Mbuvi Sonko and his predecessors.

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Just in case you forgot

It would be impossible for anyone with an internet connection to have ignored the trial of Derek Chauvin, the policeman accused of murdering George Floyd, in Minnesota. Mr Floyd was accused of passing off  counterfeit twenty dollar bill by a shopkeeper. Mr Chauvin, allegedly attempting to restrain Mr Floyd during his arrest, knelt on Mr Floyd's neck for nine minutes until he choked to death. It as all filmed by a bystander, a child who couldn't do anything more to help Mr Floyd. Mr Floyd's killing led to protests, protests that were met by police violence, and which in turn led to riots. This is not what happens in Kenya.

Josphat Mwenda was assaulted by the police. He sought the protection of the law and sued the police for the assault. In his suit, by which he was asking for the dismissal of his assailant from the police service, he was represented by Willie Kimani. On the fateful day, Joseph Muiruri drove Willie and Josphat to court and waited for them to return. After court, all three were abducted by policemen, unlawfully detained, and murdered. The murders took place in 2016. Five years later, the trial of the four police who murdered Josphat Mwenda, Willie Kimani and Joseph Muiruri have not been concluded. The murders led to demonstrations organised by civil society. The demonstrations petered out in days. The murders have long receded from the public conscience. In Kenya, police almost always get away with murder.

Since those murders, not much has taken place to reform the police or policing. Indeed, as we have come to experience during the pandemic, the police have become more brazen and reckless. The police have murdered children in the name of suppressing post-election violence and enforcing curfew orders. Nothing seems to have been done to punish the police that murdered children. The police have been accused of murdering un-housed Kenyans for violating curfew orders. In my opinion, because the victim was poor and "of no fixed abode", his murderers will get away with their crime.

The Law Society, which could be counted on in the past to say and do something to hold some of the violators of the law to account, is as silent as the sphinx. Its presidents - what an asinine title - are prone to self-publicity if it serves their narrow political ends but are loath to rouse themselves when the victims are the marginalised and un-seen. And where the Law Society leads, the rest of civil society follows. It is shocking how little the Kenya Human Rights Commission, the International Commission of Jurists - Kenya Chapter, and the Independent Medico-legal Unit have done to keep the murders of Willie Kimani, Josphat Mwenda and Joseph Muiruri in the public conscience.

This attitude, this casual disregard for the rule of law, respect for the law, equal protection of the law, due process of the law - this contempt for the people, their constitution and their laws - is a reflection of the men and women we have charged to govern and lead. It is reflected especially starkly in the elected leadership of this country and cascaded to every man and woman with a pot to piss in. Titans of industry, ministers of faith, favoured "thought leaders" in their ivory towers, and leading lights of Government get away with murder and all manner of crimes because they are the elite. And as they do so does the police that serves their interests. It is why four police saw it as a possibility that they could abduct three Kenyans in broad daylight from the precincts of law courts, detain them, torture them, murder them and get away with it. They knew that they would be protected. They knew that civil society would forget, if it even bothered to acknowledge the monstrousness of the thing. I thought someone needed to remind us where we were and what we were. Lest we had forgotten.

Saturday, April 03, 2021

Outliers won't save us

As I understand it, two men went into a store in Minneapolis to do a bit of shopping. One of the men handed over a twenty-dollar bill as payment and the two men left and entered their parked car. The store manager determined that the twenty-dollar bill was a counterfeit bill and sent two of his assistants to ask the shopper who had paid to come back to the store. The shopper refused to do so. The store owner then called the police. From here, things escalate. In less than twenty minutes after the police arrived on the scene, the shopper was dead.

In my typically tone-def way, I tweeted that this was one more reason to go cashless. I was called out for it because it is not the counterfeit money that led to the man's death. One of the policemen who showed up on the scene was Caucasian. The man who was killed was Black. Everything we know - at least, everything we know from news media - about the United States is that encounters between white police and Black men are fraught with overwhelming risk for the Black suspects.

Indeed, it has become so commonplace that whenever a Black man suspects that police have been called to deal with something that he is accused of having done, he is faced with two choices: flight or total surrender. Neither guarantees that he shall walk away from the encounter alive.

The racialist policing in the United States is reflected in Kenya's policing. Indeed, racialism pervades a great deal of officialdom's interaction with "ordinary" Kenyans. Kenyans are increasingly being policed the way minority communities are policed in the United States. In my opinion, an armed police force is not designed for "community" policing; it is designed to control and suppress the policed population. It is designed to suspect the policed population of being a dangerous risk that must be met with force at the first instance.

If we think back to the beginning of the Government's response to the pandemic at the end of March of 2020, our most vivid memories are he immediate aftermath of the declaration of the 7 pm to 5 am curfew. There were scenes at the Likoni Ferry Crossing of hundreds of commuters lying on their stomachs as some of them are viciously assaulted by the police ostensibly for missing the curfew. There were the videos of delivery drivers being assaulted by gangs of police for violating the curfew even though, the Curfew Order expressly stated that they were exempt. There was the tragic story of a teenager shot dead by a policeman who recklessly fired his gun while accosting another group of curfew offenders. There was the shameful burial at night overseen by the police in order that was ostensibly enforcing Covid-19 protocols on burials and similar disposals of the remains of the deceased.

Many of us have been victims of police criminality, especially if we appear not to be members of the one-percent. We have been assaulted and robbed by police. We have been extorted and murdered. Indeed, one seemingly never-ending criminal trial involves a gang of police that abducted a complainant, his lawyer and their driver, murdered the there of them, and dumped their remains in a river. There are those who will defend the institution of the police on the grounds that not all police are bad; only a few rogue elements are responsible for the criminality that seems to pervade the ranks of the disciplined forces. Many of us think that the problem is not a few rogue elements but the entire institution needs to be remade to reflect the [relatively] new constitutional order.

There are many individual police that serve their communities, helping to prevent crime and protect lives and property. They assist communities to address security challenges and investigate serious crimes. They play an invaluable role in dispute resolution and conflict de-escalation. But they are not the norm. They are outliers. It is why they are celebrated whenever their stories are highlighted in the news media. We no longer need a conversation on the inherent criminality of the police; the facts are plain to see. What we need is to tear down the entire structure of the police and build it from scratch, if at all. Anything less is a betrayal of the Bill of Rights and an admission that we have learnt nothing from the policing troubles of the United States.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

They still don't care

As shall become apparent after you have spent ten or so minutes with me, my laziness is otherworldly. Combined with my legendary procrastination, I couldn't possibly be bothered by ninety-nine per cent of the shit that gets folks out of bed in the morning. It is why I go out of my way to do the things I do well first time round so that I don't have to repeat them - or myself. I have a conscience, of sorts, and I would prefer that my life choices not have negative externalities, as the economists would put it.

It is why I know that the decisions that were being taken regarding the "Public Order No. 2 of 2021" were not just made by lazy procrastinators, they were made without thinking of or caring about their negative externalities. The decision is redolent of the decision in March 2020, at the beginning of the panic throughout government, to impose a nighttime curfew without giving the millions of workers who would be affected y the decision time to make arrangements to deal with the decision. The videos of Kenyans being assaulted by policemen for violating the short-notice curfew orders were heart-wrenching. The powers-that-be have not learnt anything.

When the order was given to shut down all travel out of and into Nairobi, Kiambu, Nakuru, Machakos and Kajiado counties, little thought was given to the fact that Kiambu, Machakos and Kajiado are dormitory towns of Nairobi, and hundreds of thousands of workers commute from them to the City for work. Mavoko is Machakos, Ongata Rongai is in Kajiado, and Kikuyu is in Kiambu. By imposing travel restrictions on these three counties, it meant the workers who work in the City were, by presidential decree, barred from coming to work. If their employers are unable to make work-from-arrangements for them, they are likely to be laid off. The latest declaration, just like the 2020 one, did not even bother to look provide for exemptions that would be applicable for essential workers or essential supplies. And in typical serikali fashion, it would be enforced with great vigour by the forces of law and order, further empowering the petty tyrants that policemen have become over the past one year.

Those who know these things, the people engaged in the arduous task of dealing with public emergencies, have told us over and over that the response to a pandemic follows certain guidelines. The economists who look at the impacts have told us what needs to be done in order to ensure that the economy is protected and the livelihoods of workers are protected, if not their household incomes. In the past year, the decision-makers in this government have not listened to the experts, whether it was on pandemic response, management and mitigation or economic relief and recovery. They have paid more attention to the security implications of their decisions because, as we have come to learn, they are more interested in managing the political transition leading up to the 2022 general election to the almost-total exclusion of everything else.

The senior-most members of the security establishment have turned a deaf ear to public health and economic specialists and it has led us down a false path that has occasioned billions in economic losses and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lost and shattered livelihoods. That they continue to be in charge and continue to make decisions with serious cross-cutting implications is a terrible indictment of our collective response to this national emergency.

All it would have taken for us to weather this pandemic and emerge better than we have would have been the placing of care for the people at the heart of the national response. How do we protect people from disease, injury and harm? How do we protect households from the harmful and injurious effects of the pandemic? How do we protect incomes and the economy so that families don't suffer from the effects of poverty? Instead, the response revolved around the fear that the Government would fall, that the president's agenda (whatever that is) would be derailed, that "crime" would become widespread, that the people would lead a revolution. None of that indicated a care for the people; it was a response designed to protect narrow parochial interests. It was wrong, injurious and harmful. We are repeating the same mistakes, only this time, I fear, the outcomes will be much, much worse.

Friday, March 26, 2021

I tell you Maina...

In the olden days of 2005, when I had no choice in the matter, I was a passive, albeit annoyed, listener of the various morning shows on FM radio. Depending on which of the deathtraps called PSVs I boarded, I would sit through apparently humorous and entertaining renditions of "adult" subjects, mostly by male presenters, mostly in remarkably crass ways, mostly for prurience and titillation. The shows, even then, had little to commend them on the moral or social end. They almost universally bad. The FM stations made up for their bad-ness with music by Kenyan artists - and artistes - some of whom were very, very good. Some others produced pop songs whose beat still makes me bop my head whenever an earworm nestles in there. (Nameless, for sure, had a knack for belting out headbangers and I miss the man's songs something fierce.)

Then came along Mandevu - rather his wife - and my morning commute became this island of calmness because, I tell you Maina, Double M buses elevated the PSV game to levels hitherto seen in the mid-1980s when Kenya Bus stuck to a schedule and matatus were confined to the outskirts of the City. But I digress.

Morning FM radio, that vehicle for advertising products that a burgeoning working class aspiring to greatness wanted, was dominated by salaciously risqué shows that almost always engendered great discomfort when parents and their young wards happened to commute together. (We will cover the dysfunctional family life of parents who are afraid - and a bit ashamed - to discuss sex with their children another day.)

For me, though, it wasn't just the notoriously and relentlessly sexualised monotone of the likes of Maina and King'ang'i in the Morning that put me off, it was the determined efforts they all made to be on the wrong side of every single public interest issue of the day. If someone managed to break through their obsession with undersexed spouses and oversexed watchmen with a topic with real-world implications - say, Nairobi's notorious traffic jams - our sex mad radiomen would find a way of colouring the ensuing discussion with a bit of sex. These specimens of journalistic execrableness did not and could not find it in themselves to elevate the public discourse into topics that would, in the fulness of time, benefit the hundreds of thousands of commuters who tuned in day in, day out.

So it comes as no surprise that even in radio stations that have done many positive things, their presenters remain wedded to a determined almost-always patriarchally misogynistic view of the world. More importantly, they are prepared to share their worldviews loudly and without shame. Nuanced discussions about the wars of the sexes and similar cultural shibboleths receive only a patina of reason and thought. The depths of muck that these radiomen are prepared to plumb in their single-minded pursuit of the "sex sells" philosophy is sometimes quite staggering.

I have come a short distance from my Double M commute, but on those days when I have the luxury of driving myself to the office, it is to podcasts and my spectacularly eclectic collection of MP3 songs that I turn to. I cannot imagine my brain being addled by the pap peddled by the Mainas and King'ang'is of FM radio.

And yet these human specimens remain popular, their radio stations continue to promote their shows - and their views - and millions of Kenyans are made not just more stupider for their choice of entertainment, but worse as humans. If it is reinforced in your mind that men are superior to women, that women are men's sex objects, that women deserve every bad thing that happens to them for denying men sex - if the reinforcement is done day after day after day, we are worse off as humans. We will do bad things to each other as result. We will harm each other. We will injure each other. We will murder one another. What's worse, we won't care.

There will be a reckoning

I imagine that not every Johnnie-come-lately can get through the training needed to become a doctor or surgeon. By all accounts, the amount of twenty-four-hour swotting medical students engage in in order to append the prefix "Dr" before their names and the suffix "MD" after is simply staggering. Many of them also expand their intellectual muscles beyond Gray's Anatomy and the latest editions of the Physician's Desk Reference. You will happily listen to them expound on diverse subjects with a keen appreciation for the substance, if not the form. They are, quite often, delightful to be with. Sadly, they are a rapidly shrinking segment of the population, if not the academy.

Kenya's members of the medical profession are a funny lot these days. The pre-eminent example of the heights of achievement one can attain is a member of the national cabinet. Another one is an absentee deputy governor. Still another is a mouthpiece for the health ministry. What they have in common is a spectacularly horrific track record when it comes to keeping suffering Kenyans safe in the midst of a global pandemic that has ravaged homes, communities and the economy. It isn't that they have done bad things; that would be too easy in these days of social-media-fuelled blame-shifting. No. What they have one is to abdicate their senses - moral, intellectual, professional and social - and allowed the silver-tongued denizens of the Augean stables of national politics to carry the day whenever the question of public health comes up.

Indeed, in my opinion, the eponymous unsmiling member of the cabinet is the worst of the lot. He seems not to possess an ounce of humanity all the while executing un-human policies designed to academically segregate whole generations from their peers in other countries. He positively revels in acts designed to cow and humiliate his subordinates and underlings. He represents, as crassly as possible, the sentiments pervading the cabinet itself and he will not be deterred from demonstrating that if he were given the power to di, he would lead a nation without humans. Not a one. It would be clean, safe, un-corrupt, efficient - cold and sterile, like a surgical theatre.

Their kind is now prevalent across the land, spreading ominously like the epidemic decimating our families. Lawyers, accountants, teachers, nurses, engineers and architects are extolling the vicious virtues of more and more un-human policies, policies, if implemented, will convert humans into mere numbers, statistical datasets more useful in justifying the transfer of large wads of taxpayers' cash into the coffers of private corporations. Humans, people with needs and wants, are anathema to the utopia being preached to us by the likes of the waziri and his colleagues. Human messy-ness is a flaw, rather than a vital feature of our humanity, and must be stamped out by the bullet, if need be.

It has never occurred to them that they did not come of age in vacuums; they are patent reflections of the psychic tortures they visit on their fellowman. The more they impose restrictions, controls and violence on us, the worse their pristine country becomes shambolic, disheveled and untidy. The leafy-ness of their suburbs is being decimated because the same decimation they visited on the hovel-strewn neighbourhoods in the East has followed them home. Over the past one year, they have pursued the single-minded goal of subverting the will of the people, throwing public health caution to the four winds and as a result, visited on the people they intend to rule with an iron rod a horror of epic proportions. That horror has come back to bite them, and you can see them, their representatives and their apologists succumbing, one by one.

Of course they will push to the front when the vaccines come, but because they have flung open the national gates to all the nasty variants, the vaccine will do them  no good, and as they are felled one after the other, felled in the same cruel way as the people they have cruelly defiled, they will have no savior. None of us will. Some of them will end up with grand mausoleums, edifices to their egos and the memories of their egos, but when the maggots come for their embalmed arses, the only difference between them and us will be the volume of hypocritical wailing at their passing. In everything else, the six feet of soil between them and the living, they will be our peers, if not a bit lower down. 

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

The fire has turned to ash

When I was a child, my congregation used to worship in a social hall in Nairobi's Eastlands. Our number grew too big to use the place comfortably but there was no sense of urgency to shift bases. Our congregation owned a piece of land nearby but had procrastinated about raising funds to build a sanctuary, so the land just sat there unused while attracting the attentions of the city's land sharks. One day, and I don't know why, we were ejected from the social hall and forced to "make alternative arrangements" while the higher ups in the clergy were still dithering about making arrangements to put up a sanctuary on our plot of land.

What I remember of the new place is that it wasn't fenced and we didn't even have a watchman to guard the place overnight. My memory may be faulty; it was, after all, almost thirty years ago. Our congregation, like many others, didn't invite the attentions of the politicians, aspiring or elected. We kept to ourselves and tended to our spiritual and social needs in peace. Then Mwai Kibaki was elected as the third president of the republic and everything turned to shit.

One of the worst outcomes of the supposed end of the Kanu era was the insidious co-option of civil society, including faith-based organisations, by the Kibaki regime. In incremental steps, the Kenyan Christian church became a "partner" in Government, lending its legitimacy to the fledgling Kibaki kleptocracy. By the time of the 2005 referendum, the Church was, in Kiswahili parlance, chanda na pete with the Kibaki government - and the opposition. By the time things were going tits up in 2007, the Church in Kenya, in its various guises, had picked sides and been rend asunder in the bargain. Some of the decisions made by Church leaders revolved around their need to either protect ill-acquired real estate properties or, as became commonplace, to illegally acquire real estate in Kenya's cities and towns. Whereas my small congregation had jumped through numerous hoops to be allocated the plot we eventually built our sanctuary on, some congregations owned more than what they could legitimately claim as necessary for their faith-based activities and charitable works.

And as Kenya's politics turned to shit, so too did "motivated" schisms in congregations widen between the members and the clergy. Much of what converted congregations into political footballs revolved around land - and real estate holdings. Land, in Kenya, is the true fuel of political activity, and the church - and other religious communities - has become a self-interested political institution because of it, camouflaging its political biases in the traditional rhetoric of the church such as family values, abortion, "Kadhis' courts" and homosexuality.

During the second liberation struggle, the church was deeply compromised, playing handmaid to Kenyatta's and Moi's authoritarianisms. However, there were individual clergymen who went against the grain and spoke against their congregations' interests. Henry Okullu, Alexander Muge, David Gitari, Timothy Njoya, Ndingi Mwana'a Nzeki and John Anthony Kaizer paid heavy prices for their stances. They upheld the deeply patriarchal foundations of their congregations even as they challenged the political compromises of the 1980s and 1990s. They faced violence and intimidation for their political activities; their sermons were monitored and they were frequently placed under surveillance by state agents. Though no one was ever prosecuted for it, it is commonly believed that Bishop Muge and Father Kaizer were assassinated for their politics.

In 2021, it is difficult to state with confidence that there is a minister of faith who commands the same legitimacy as the firebrand clergymen of the 1990s. Their organisations have become so entangled with the politicians that sometimes it is difficult to separate the two. While an individual clergyman may declare that his pulpit will never be used by a politician or for political purposes, his organisation is busily "lobbying" the lands minister for favourable treatment regarding its numerous holdings - and the finance minister to boot to ensure that its vast incomes are not taxed. Many faith-based organisations rival Mammon in their avarice and material chicanery. Many members of the congregations are happy to go along; few of them are free of the corruption that has infested every sphere of modern life.

Many congregations have little in common with the communities where their sanctuaries are located. The sanctuaries are not places for the local community to find help - or solace - but for-profit shops designed to maximise returns on investment for the congregations - or, as is more likely these days, the clergy. It is why many have seven-feet high fences topped with razor wire and guarded 24/7 by armed watchmen. Sunday service is accessible only after running the gantlet of security theatre, beeping wands and all. Spiritual nourishment used to be a core function of the sanctuary back in the day but nowadays, "investment opportunities" for the members is the primary motivator for church service. We now attend church for its "networking" opportunities - other than the gauche fronting and preening that has become a must-do. Among the clergy we don't have modern-day Gitaris or Okullus or Muges. If a clergyman is murdered it is almost certain that it will be because of a "deal gone bad". Or, as is becoming commonplace, the clergyman has killed someone.

Wednesday, February 03, 2021

Whose 24 hours is it?

We don't all have the same twenty-four hours. Some of us have a little bit more. This is not to deprecate the good fortune of those who have a bit more on that front. It is to acknowledge that in the lottery of life, there are winners, there are non-winners and there are losers - and that many of those holding the short end of the stick do so through no fault of their own. It isn't strictly "this is what it is" but an acknowledgment that the structures that make up the daily are not known to be fairly distributed or fairly accessible.

Many of us are happy enough to just make do. Our ambitions are to survive childhood traumas, enter into successful loving relationships, build a house huko ushago, and squirrel away a tidy sum for our old age, an old age which, if you are of the masculine persuasion if not gender, will be spent ogling nubile secondary school headmistresses and cracking naughty jokes with your bar-mates.

The majority though, especially in light of the havoc wreaked by the pandemic, live a life of a great many challenges, challenges exacerbated by selfish public policies designed to keep them in penury despite the blood and sweat they pour into personal industry. Industriousness never seems to turn into a leg up. Instead, it invites acute and unabashedly avariciously shameless attentions from the forces of law and order - the number of industrious-but-poor that are accosted by the blue-frocked forces of law and order as they bring home the bacon is simply staggering. The taxman is never far behind either - Pay As You Earn schemes for many of my industrious-but-benighted brethren is nothing short of daylight robbery.

So it sticks in the craw to watch as senior members of the political and economic establishment take the privileges we allow them for grated in the reckless way they do nowadays. Take for example the madness surrounding the gauche former governor of the capital city. Despite a youthful record of staggering disqualification, he has variously been a member of the National Assembly and Senate and an extremely popularly elected governor of the county. But despite it all, despite apparently amassing a great fortune, he has determinedly shat on the people he was supposed to lead to better days. He epitomises, in the most extreme sense, the disgraceful way his peers and former parliamentary colleagues treat the rest of us. But despite it all, he is no match for the crude ways more senior political officials treat us. The contempt they have for the rest of us is only matched by the recklessness with which they make decisions. Whether or not we are harmed in the bargain is no skin off of their noses.

I humbly put it to you that the reason why things are the way there are is the utter fecklessness of the thinking classes. I have borne witness to the pusillanimity of some of these that sit in ivory towers. One who claims the mantle of "professor", unearned, has taken to singing the praises of men determined to lay to waste the Kenyan academy that if we were to attempt to put daylight between his lips and his benefactors' arses, I fear we would come to a violently bad end. It is that bad. Those of us with the temerity to point out that the emperor is swanning about in the airy version of the finest finery that the House of Gucci can produce are treated like the unwanted crud that sticks to the bottom of your shoes when you walk through a badly-tended cow boma. We are more likely to attract the attentions of acronym agencies on one false pretext and another.

If proof were needed that we really don't have the same twenty-four hours, just witness the panic in millions of homes as the realisation falls on parents that the children they have been preparing to take the national exams were ill-served by the ten months they were at home and that only the children of parents with the additional time-saving ten thousand shillings or so per week for internet and other academic resources will sit for the exams and pass. While many of my neighbours' children had to contend with curriculum delivery that involved kabambe mobiles, their counterparts in the barely-still leafy bits of the city often enjoyed personalised tuition services. The poisoned fruits of the poisoned post-pandemic age will be borne for years to come and, I fear, the poison will kill us all.